1
as in backdrop
the physical conditions or features that form the setting against which something is viewed they got married on a mountain top with the sunset as background

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2
as in setting
the place and time in which the action for a portion of a dramatic work (as a movie) is set the background of that movie is the World War II era

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How is the word background distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of background are environment, milieu, mise-en-scène, and setting. While all these words mean "the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs," background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development.

the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots

Where would environment be a reasonable alternative to background?

While the synonyms environment and background are close in meaning, environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development.

the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents

When is it sensible to use milieu instead of background?

The synonyms milieu and background are sometimes interchangeable, but milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

In what contexts can mise-en-scène take the place of background?

Although the words mise-en-scène and background have much in common, mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect.

a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène

When could setting be used to replace background?

The meanings of setting and background largely overlap; however, setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

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Cite this Entry

“Background.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/background. Accessed 15 Jul. 2024.

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